Creating the right environment for effective data sharing

29 March 2022 4 min. read
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In today’s modern business world, data sharing has become a critical activity. Whether it’s giving a colleague access to a draft report or sharing financial details with a partner, being able to share data readily and securely is vitally important.

The benefits of efficient data sharing were highlighted during the Covid-19 lockdowns, when data sharing helped Australians receive timely and reliable services in a time of need. As an example, data sharing helped ‘track and trace’ to quickly identify and contact people who may have been exposed to Covid-19.

Data sharing between organisations is also on the rise. According to research firm IDC, by 2026 an average of 30% of ASEAN top-500 company revenue will be derived from industry ecosystem-shared data, applications, and operations initiatives with partners, industry entities, and business networks.

Creating the right environment for effective data sharing

A study from The Economist for the data cloud company Snowflake found that nearly half of the Australian respondents to a survey reported selling data to a supplier or vendor (44%) or government body (42%). This shows that data sharing is something that simply can’t be ignored.

Governments lead the way

In some countries, effective and secure data sharing is being driven by the public sector. For example, the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in Europe has marked a new road in the digital world.

As a result, the European Union has opened the way to a more responsible and transparent data industry. New initiatives and proposals are also emerging, such as the Data Governance Act which is aimed at providing a framework for organising data sharing to foster innovation and collective intelligence.

In Australia, the Data Availability and Transparency bill, first introduced in December 2020, has returned to parliament for further examination and debate. The legislation offers a so-called ‘new path’ for the sharing of data held by public-sector bodies and lays out the framework for the establishment of a National Data Commissioner.

Improving access

Although many organisations in the private sector understand the value of data sharing, existing barriers can make it difficult to achieve. The problems encountered are common to every data project: the technology and its deployment, trust and data governance, and organisational culture.

From a technology perspective, APIs are the foundation upon which every successful data sharing strategy will be built. While public-sector bodies typically use and publish open APIs that are available without restriction as part of open data projects, private-sector organisations will mostly use private or ‘partner’ APIs with specific access rules.

Effective API development is the first barrier to implementing a data sharing strategy. Developing APIs requires both developers and time, as creating an API can take between three and five days.

However, technologies are appearing that can simplify this process. API consumers, such as data analysts, can use solutions that provide standard API libraries. In a matter of just an hour, a data analyst can publish an API and have access to the information they require. Access to the data is then managed automatically from the tool that provides the APIs.

For data sharing to be valuable and monetised, data must be reliable and governed. According to a Talend survey conducted in 2021, ensuring data quality was a challenge for 50% of business leaders.

Organisations can't take the next step in the data lifecycle without ensuring their data health. Much like the French adage “tell me what you eat, and I'll tell you who you are,” the data health of an organisation must be measurable from creation to use.

However, in a world where the notion of data ‘ownership’ is omnipresent, an organisation’s data culture remains perhaps the most critical barrier to sharing. This culture has to overcome the challenges posed by business departments that effectively operate in silos. It’s up to senior managers to explain the benefits of sharing and then put in place strategies to make it happen.

Clearly data sharing offers considerable benefits, yet there remains work to be done to make it a widespread reality. Consider how your organisation could become better at the task.

About the author: Mark Fazackerley is Regional Vice President Australia and New Zealand at Talend, a provider of data management software.